SIMSBURY, June 30, 2020 – There were dark clouds in the sky and some rumbles of thunder that rolled across the valley and Memorial Field in Simsbury. But the rain was off in the distance and Tuesday night’s Connecticut Elite Baseball Association game went on.
These players and coaches waited months for an opportunity to get back together and play some baseball. “It is very refreshing,” Simsbury third baseman Connor Anthony said. “Missing the spring (high school) season obviously hurt but unfortunately it wasn’t in the books. It is really nice to play baseball again.”
Anthony had three putouts and four assists at the hot corner as Simsbury (1-3) won their first CEBA game with a 3-1 win over Avon Tuesday at Memorial Field. Both teams had five hits but Avon (0-3) stranded 10 runners on base thanks to some fine defensive plays from Simsbury and some key strikeouts.
“Everyone is having their struggles. There is a lot of rust on the bats (due to) the guys missing out (on playing) the spring but I like what I am seeing so far,” Simsbury coach Thadd Thomas said. “We have some tight defense and they’re hungry to play baseball. It’s good to be out here.”
Simsbury dropped their season-opening doubleheader on Sunday to Cheshire, 3-0 and 3-1.
“The first weekend I didn’t care one bit about the outcome of the game. I was just so happy to actually be out here (on the field),” Thomas said. “Now, it’s time to get some wins.”
Simsbury (1-2) took an early lead off Avon hurler Ben Angus in the first inning. Simsbury’s Kevin Gallagher had a one-out double to center field that drove in Aidan Attianese, who had singled earlier in the inning. Gallagher moved to third base on a passed ball and scored on another passed ball for a 2-0 lead.
Simsbury extended their lead to 3-0 in the third inning. Daniel Gorham was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. He moved to second base on a passed ball. After two strikeouts by Angus, Gorham stole third base. Gorham scored on a failed pickoff attempt when Avon first baseman Tyler Mandeville dropped the ball and it rolled far enough away to allow Gorham to scamper home.
Avon had chances but couldn’t come up with a big hit.
“Timing is everything with hitting and we haven’t seen much baseball in a year, so it will take time to adjust,” Avon manager Eric Welles said. “It wasn’t due to a lack of getting on base. We had runners in scoring position (eight) times. We just couldn’t cash in. It’s a completely different ballgame with one or two (more) hits.”
In the third inning, Max Raha walked with two outs and promptly stole second and third base. Zac Aiello was hit by a pitch. But Gorham, Simsbury’s starting pitcher, got Avon’s Christian Boudreau to ground out to Anthony to end the inning.
In the fourth, Mandeville led off with a double. Three consecutive one-out walks drove in a run and had the bases loaded. But Simsbury relief pitcher Mike Santos entered the game and struck out Jackson Jobe and got Nick Amatulli to ground out to second base and end the threat.
In the fifth inning, Raha and Aiello each singled. But Boudreau ripped a hard line drive down the third base line that Anthony grabbed out of the air after one bounce off the grass. He stepped on third base for one out and fired the ball to first base for a double play.
The inning ended when Mandeville grounded out to Anthony, who once again threw him out at first base.
“I liked the way we pitched tonight. I liked the way we played defense. I like that they don’t give up,” Welles said.
Angus struck out five and gave up two hits in three innings of work for Avon while Amatulli allowed three hits and fanned two.
Boudreau, playing third base at the time, made an outstanding catch in foul territory in the sixth inning. The bases were loaded with two outs when Cooper Schneider fouled off a ball high in the air near the Simsbury. Boudreau raced in and dove with his arm extended to grab the foul ball before it hit the earth and end the inning.
Both teams return to action quickly. Avon hosts Cheshire on Wednesday at Buckingham Field while Simsbury travels to West Hartford.
On Thursday, Avon will host Newington at Buckingham while Simsbury will host Cheshire at Canton High. Simsbury’s team is comprised of players from Simsbury, Granby, East Granby and Canton – just like its American Legion team.
The Connecticut Elite Baseball Association is a one-year bridge due to the COVID-19 coronavirus. The American Legion cancelled their organization and sponsorship of the summer baseball season in May.
Simsbury 3, Avon 1
Avon (0-3) 000 100 0 — 1-5-1
Simsbury (1-2) 201 000 x — 3-5-2
Ben Angus, Nick Amatulli (4) and Zac Aiello, Matt Arciero (6); Daniel Gorham, Danny Coppinger (4), Mike Santos (4), Matt Rose (7) and Jackson Matyczyk; WP: Gorham (1-0); LP: Angus (0-1); Save: M. Rose (1); 2B: Kevin Gallagher (S); Tyler Mandeville (A)
Connecticut Elite Baseball Association
U-19, Division 1
Simsbury 3, Avon 1
Newington vs. Bristol (game suspended in 4th with Newington leading 3-1)
Berlin at Meriden
West Hartford at Cheshire
Cheshire at Avon, 5:30 p.m.
Simsbury at West Hartford
Meriden at Bristol
Newington at Berlin
Newington at Avon, 5:30 p.m.
Meriden vs. Simsbury at Canton HS, 5:45 p.m.
Berlin at Bristol
West Hartford at Cheshire
CEBA League website